Right then, I think I’ve finally gotten to grips with how to use Adobe Audition effectively. I can’t take any credit for instinctive technical wizardry. Unable to access the help section of my software or find any tutorials on the basics online, I accosted a poor fellow student in my university’s radio room, who appeared to be using the programme without shaking and weeping. It’s really the kind of programme that makes more sense when someone shows you how to use it anyway…
The lovely Alexa was able to show me the main tool that I stupidly hadn’t figured out, which was the zoom. By pressing the plus and minus keyboard keys, you can make sure that any editing you do is fine-tuned.
The main thing I needed to do was edit out my questions to my interviewee and any digressions or hesitations he made so the story he told was coherent and captivated the listener. At first, I found Audition incredibly counter-intuitive. I felt like I needed two cursors, one to mark a starting point and one an end point.
After my tutorial however, I realised that there are in effect two cursors, you’ve just got to be careful not to accidentally move your first one after you’ve painstakingly marked out where you want to start cutting from.
Make cuts thus:
- mark where you want to start cutting from. The best way to do this is listen to your piece and hit the space bar at the split second you want to cut from. This may take a couple of attempts if you are trying to catch someone between words as I was or edit out a tiny sound from the interviewer.
- Then zoom right in and click your yellow cursor exactly over the white line which marks the point you’ve just paused at.
- Then press play and wait until the moment just after you need to finish the cut and hit the space bar again.
- This may again take a few attempt which can be time consuming as the programme will always play from where you last placed your yellow marker i.e. where your cut is starting from. The tip here is not to be tempted to move the yellow cursor to nearer to where you want to end the cut so you don’t have to listen to the same section again. If you do this, you’ll lose where you were cutting from in the first place. Instead use the fast forward button to cycle near to the point you want to designate as the cut finishing point. Or you can make a note of the time the cursors at displayed in the Selection/view bar in the bottom right of your screen but this is a bit fiddly.
- Once you have your two points use your cursor to highlight from the yellow dotted cursor to white timeline, by dragging your cursor across to highlight the section. Highlight from yellow to white otherwise you’ll lose your starting point. Again, zooming in really helps otherwise it may look like your highlighting exactly from line to line when actually your a fraction out.
- To check you’re happy with the section you are about to delete, use the loop back button in the bottom left-hand corner to listen to the section over and over- this is particularly handy for shorter cuts. Use the little yellow arrows at the top and bottom of your highlighted section to drag the section bigger or smaller.
- Before you delete anything, go to Edit and check the Undo/redo cut is enabled. Also, in order to delete you must press the stop button on the lower left-hand corner. You would not believe how much time I spent wondering why I couldn’t delete bits. Then hit the delete button and listen to it back to check you’ve got it right. If not undo it and have another go.
And hey presto!: simple editing in Audition that even a technology-dunce like me can manage. To get it into an MP3 format so I could upload it on SoundCloud I had a bit more of a faff than last time I tried this. Turns out Switch Converter only works once before they want you to pay. Bah. I tried a whole host of other converter programmes: AVSAudio Converter, Smart Audio Converter and FoxTab Audio Converter. The last one I couldn’t get to work at all- the first two recorded a free trial over the start of my piece. Double Bah.
Then I discovered that good old iTunes can convert files. Simply go to Edit, Preferences, Import Settings and change Import using to ‘MP3 Encoder’ and Setting to ‘Good Quality’. Then just add your file to your library and it’ll ask you if you want to convert it. Yes!
And here is the humble result of countless (I’d rather not count them) hours of toil. It is The Independent’s defence and diplomatic correspondent Kim Sengupta paying tribute to a fixer, Nour al-Khal, who he worked with in Iraq. A fixer is someone who can be a translator, interview aid, guide to local culture, historian, bodyguard and driver; they are indispensable to foreign correspondents. As this story attests to, they must also be extremely brave.